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Architecture and Urban Planning - A Memoir \ David Best
I 1950 - 1960
Time Out in Bari and Stockholm

    While I was working in the Tel Aviv Planning Department I had a second job in the afternoons designing traveling exhibitions. Exhibition design in many respects is the diametric opposite of conventional Architecture, designing the ephemeral in plywood and paper, photographs and typography. It is put up in a matter of days and after a week or two taken down and thrown onto the refuse-bin. On the other hand because it is so ephemeral, so cheap in material, the designing can be sometimes more adventurous, breaking the rules; there is little to lose even if it is a failure, who will remember it, it is here today and gone tomorrow. I enjoyed this work immensely. I worked in the office of the architect Arieh Elhanany, originally a stage designer from Russia with an accent in English, which sounded like Russian with an English accent. He took a liking to me and promised to send me abroad once in order to organize the construction of one of the exhibitions upon which I was working. He kept his promise. 

  It was some months before this that I had my first experience in site supervision. It took place while I was working on the planning of the "Conquest of the Desert" exhibition in Jerusalem, which was to include international exhibitors.  Elhanany chose me as the supervising architect, as much for my command of English as for my architectural experience. The International Hall was to be located in a part of the unfinished building of the future Binyanai Ha-Oma (the National Concert Hall) in Jerusalem. I draped the unfinished interior space with different coloured fabrics and designed an elaborate lighting system in order to accommodate the various exhibition stands of the many countries that were to participate. One of my tasks was to coordinate the work between the Israeli building contractors and the different representatives from abroad. Everything went according to plan with the exception that the English representative came very late. As soon as he arrived I scheduled a meeting between him and the contractors, most of who were originally from central Europe and apart from Hebrew spoke only Yiddish.  Some two dozen contractors of all trades gathered around the entrance hall to meet the English representative. It was the first time I had met him myself and before introducing him I asked him his name. He replied: "Mr. Pots, Mr. Alfred Pots". A cold flush of panic came over me, as the word ‘Pots’ in Yiddish means ‘prick’, also to be used as a synonym for ‘an idiot’. Developing a strategy on the spot, I started by saying: “and the English representative's name is...” and in almost a whisper and as indistinctly as possible, I pronounced his name. The English representative smiled broadly and straightening himself up to his full height, (he was about one meter forty)and announced in a voice like a fog horn: “No Mr. Best, the name is Pots, P.O.T.S. Pots”, looking around smilingly at the suddenly frozen countenances of the contractors faces, he repeated, “and don't forget gentlemen, Pots, P.O.T.S. is the name” The laughter which erupted seemed like an avalanche of rocks, how I wished I could disappear amongst them.  It was now the turn of the English representative to be frozen to the spot.  Turning to me, he said “Did I say something wrong Mr. Best?”  I began a complicated explanation to him that didn't make the slightest sense.


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